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COVID-19 : 7 Guidelines for Parents Sharing Custody

Author: Lorraine Mlambo is an Edmonton based Family Lawyer.

COVID-19: Guidelines For Parents Sharing Custody

Like a thief in the night, we never saw this coming. The Covid-19 pandemic is the unseen common enemy that has wreaked unprecedented havoc around the world, leaving a trail of disaster, deaths, uncertainty, and confusion. This pandemic will undoubtedly pose a challenge for parents who are already separated or going through a separation and sharing custody during COVID-19.  To help parents through these trying times, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) have issued the following helpful guidelines:

BE HEALTHY.

Comply with all CDC and local and state guidelines and model good behavior for your children with intensive hand washing, wiping down surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched, and maintaining social distancing. This also means BE INFORMED. Stay in touch with the most reliable media sources and avoid the rumor mill on social media.

 

BE MINDFUL.

Be honest about the seriousness of the pandemic but maintain a calm attitude and convey to your children your belief that everything will return to normal in time. Avoid making careless comments in front of the children and exposing them to endless media coverage intended for adults. Don’t leave the news on 24/7, for instance. But, at the same time, encourage your children to ask questions and express their concerns and answer them truthfully at a level that is age appropriate.

BE COMPLIANT WITH COURT ORDERS AND CUSTODY AGREEMENTS.

As much as possible, try to avoid reinventing the wheel despite the unusual circumstances. The custody agreement or court order exists to prevent endless haggling over the details of timesharing. In some jurisdictions there are even standing orders mandating that, if schools are closed, custody agreements should remain in force as though school were still in session.

BE CREATIVE.

At the same time, it would be foolish to expect that nothing will change when people are being advised not to fly and vacation attractions such as amusement parks, museums and entertainment venues are closing all over the US and the world. In addition, some parents will have to work extra hours to help deal with the crisis and other parents may be out of work or working reduced hours for a time. Plans will inevitably have to change. Encourage closeness with the parent who is not going to see the child through shared books, movies, games and FaceTime or Skype.

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Saving My Sanity During Social Distancing

Normally, I work outside of the house and due to class cancellations I’m home with the kids. I honestly thought the Social Distancing (as per the awesome Dr. Henshaw’s suggestion) wouldn’t get to me.

Well, I was wrong.

It was 10am on the second day when I finally broke down. I cried, a lot. I cried for the people who are sick, I cried for the people who’ve died, I cried and cried and cried. And then, I heard my kids playing and I told myself I had to stop.

There are people out there on the front line – grocery workers, nurses, doctors, police, fire, 911 operators, the list goes on and on. Like all the memes say – We can stay home – for them and for everyone.

So I made myself a list of 5 things that I can do to save my sanity.

Live Yoga/Meditation

There are so many people offering free live, or affordable online memberships. I’ve been watching two in particular myself – Fitcityguide and Metta Yoga but I would LOVE to hear if you’ve found awesome resources!

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truLocal = Truly Convenient + {Discount Code}

The Mamas love local and we hate grocery shopping.

So, when we learned about truLocal at the Edmonton Home and Garden show, we were intrigued!

Upon further investigation we learned that the basic idea is that they source LOCAL meat and deliver it to your door. Yes, it is subscription based BUT you choose your frequency. You can skip boxes – even pause or cancel at any time – no strings!

It was a real treat getting the box and seeing exactly where the items came from in Alberta. For example these DELISH steaks from Fort MacLeod.

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Experience Winter on a Farm in Southern Alberta

Experience what all the farm kids know about life on a farm this December 14-15 in southern Alberta.

Alberta Open Farm Days are piloting its first-ever Winter Edition to its extremely popular summer program.

What you need to know

Three farms and a deli (Back to Good for soup & cake on the go) are participating in the winter edition! You may recognize some farms from your travel this summer.

Custom Woolen Mills

Eh Farms

Your Local Ranch

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Family Values and Work

Up until 2 weeks ago, my work was full time. 730 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, both kids in Daycare. No flexibility, no leaving early, or even really being able to stay home with the kids if they were sick.

PS – this is not a political opinion post. 

This was a change after having an incredibly flexible, work from home or partial work from home job since my daughter was 1. I started this full time gig just before she turned 9.

I loved my work.

I loved the customers, I loved my co-workers and I loved the daily challenges. I respected and grew to care for the people I worked with. BUT there was certainly “culture shock”.

The kids being in daycare, coming home spouting opinions and “Well, Dayhome Lady says…” 9 hours of my day not seeing them. By the time I got home and made supper, it was pretty much shower and to bed. There was one time my son was a bystander of a fight on the bus, a kids head hit into his mouth knocking one tooth out, and he was bleeding. I wasn’t there at the stop for him. Dayhome was. It broke my heart.

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4 Beautiful Winter Hikes for Families around Calgary

The weather outside is getting colder and mountains are slowly being capped by snow. The cold weather and extra layers to go outside and explore with kids can be a daunting task. It is not always easy convincing toddlers and preschoolers to keep their mitts on. However, it is worth the struggle. Trust me. The trails turn into a beautiful winter wonderland. For children, this means entering the land of “Frozen”. Hot chocolate by the fireplace is also so much more enjoyable after a day of exploring in the cold. These 4 hikes, located in the Born to be Adventurous “Hiking Guide for Families”, are perfect winter hikes for everyone to enjoy. They are rated for little kids and range from easy to difficult for little feet. This means that toddlers and their grandparents can find a hike to enjoy together this winter.  

3 Winter Hiking Tips: 

Bring along Ice Cleats in the backpack in case the trail gets slippery.

Plan to take a little longer finishing the trail as hiking in the snow can be a little more challenging for kids. 

Be prepared and consider using some of these 7 hiking tips for hiking in the winter with kids.  

4 Beautiful Winter Hikes for Families around Calgary

Troll Falls

Troll Falls is an easy 2.4 km hike with minimal elevation located in the stunning Kananaskis area. In the winter, Troll Falls turns into a natural frozen masterpiece. Use caution when exploring the falls as it is very slippery, and pieces of ice can break off from above. Park at the Troll Falls Day Use area. The trail starts passed the end of the parking lot on the left side. 

If the trail is packed down with snow in the winter, then consider bringing a sled to pull the kids when they get tired of hiking.  Even though the downhills are not too long or steep, it is best to get off the sled during the downhills to avoid accidently hitting a tree or another hiker. 

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Where You Can See The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train Around Alberta 2019

As the holiday season approaches a favourite activity for many families across Alberta is to check out the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train.

This year live entertainment from Dec 5th – 7th will be from Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo and then for the rest of the way it will be Terri Clark! Warm-up around the bonfires while sipping some hot chocolate, and of course seeing all of the beautiful lights that decorate the train cars.

Here is where you can see the Holiday Train for 2019:

Provost Field adjacent to railway tracks at 50th Avenue and 46th Street 2019-12-5 5:55 PM 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo
Hardisty East end of CP railway yard, west of Highway 881 overpass 2019-12-5 9:00 PM 9:15 PM – 9:45 PM Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo
Camrose 52 Avenue and 50 Street, next to Moose Family Centre 2019-12-6 1:05 PM 1:15 PM – 1:45 PM Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo
Wetaskawin CP ES Building, 4009 50 Street 2019-12-6 3:25 PM 3:30 PM – 4:00 PM Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo
Ponoka 50th Street and 47 Avenue 2019-12-6 5:00 PM 5:15 PM – 5:45 PM Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo
Lacombe Len Thompson Fish Pond 2019-12-6 6:50 PM 7:00 PM – 7:30 PM Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo
BlackFalds CP tracks at Greg Street between Broadway Avenue and East Avenue 2019-12-6 8:05 PM 8:15 PM – 8:45 PM Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo
Innisfail 52 Avenue and 50 Street crossing 2019-12-7 1:15 PM 1:25 PM – 1:55 PM Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo
Olds 50th Street Level Crossing 2019-12-7 2:45 PM 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo
Didsbury CP Mainline, 20th Street and 18th Avenue 2019-12-7 4:05 PM 4:15 PM – 4:45 PM Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo
Airdrie Nose Creek Park, Main Street, East side of CP tracks 2019-12-7 5:45 PM 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM Scott Helman and Madeline Merlo
Calgary Anderson C-Train Station – South C-train parking lot 2019-12-8 5:45 PM 6:00 PM – 6:45 PM Terri Clark
Okotoks Along Dagget Street between Northridge Drive and Veterans 2019-12-10 12:00 PM 12:15 PM – 12:45 PM Terri Clark
Blackie Across from Post Office at 1201 Railway Avenue 2019-12-10 1:35 PM 1:45 PM – 2:15 PM Terri Clark
Vulcan CP crossing at 1st Avenue and 2nd Street 2019-12-10 3:15 PM 3:30 PM – 4:00 PM Terri Clark
Lethbridge 2nd Avenue North and 12th Street, behind Save On Foods 2019-12-10 7:00 PM 7:15 PM – 7:45 PM Terri Clark
Fort McLeod Level Railway Crossing on 5th Avenue 2019-12-11 9:15 AM 9:15 AM – 9:45 AM Terri Clark
Pincher Creek Mile 61.12 – Railway Crossing Range Road 302 off Highway 3 2019-12-11 10:35 AM 10:45 AM – 11:15 AM Terri Clark
Coleman South of 17th Avenue between 69th and 70th Street 2019-12-11 12:40 PM 12:45 PM – 1:15 PM Terri Clark

Also, don’t forget to bring healthy non-perishable food donations (or cash to donate instead) which will go towards local food banks in your community to help those in need.

For more information or to get live updates you can check out www.cpr.ca